Posted: Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Senate staff visit Southeast towns

JUNEAU - Staff members for U.S. Sens. Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski will hold office hours next week in Gustavus, Hoonah, Skagway and Haines, among other Alaska towns.

Their mobile office will be in the Gustavus post office parking lot from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday; in the Hoonah post office parking lot from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday; and in the Skagway City Hall parking lot from 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesday.

The mobile office also will be at the Southeast Alaska State Fair grounds in Haines from Friday to Sunday next week.

The office also will visit Tok, Delta Junction, Nenana, Healy, and Talkeetna. Staff members will solicit public opinion messages and handle case work concerns.

Kodiak Complex plans open house

ANCHORAGE - The Kodiak Launch Complex has scheduled an open house next month, giving the public its first chance to tour the rocket firing range.

The Alaska Aerospace Development Corp. is letting the public explore the 3,700-acre range from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 20.

Visitors will be able to drive to every facility at the complex in their own cars, officials said. Tours will be available at each site as well. Weather permitting, the 174-foot-high door leading to the launch pad will be opened at noon.

A motor coach will be on hand for visitors who prefer to be driven around, officials said.

Fire on the Kenai still smoldering

KENAI - Recent rains have mellowed a fire in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and officials are continuing to let it burn in an attempt to rid the area of beetle-killed spruce.

The more than 31,000-acre Fox Creek fire was "relatively quiet" Tuesday and is confined to the refuge, said information officer Paul Slenkemp. Light rains limited the fire to a creeping smolder throughout the day, he said.

Fire crews are strengthening lines along the fire's western and southwestern borders to protect Caribou Hills recreational area.

Fire and park officials hope the lightning-caused fire will eat through the beetle-killed spruce and allow grasses and a variety of other plants to re-establish themselves. The renewed habitat will increase the chances of attracting large animals, such as moose, bear, and wolf, to the area, Slenkemp said.

Mounties target Hells Angels club

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Royal Canadian Mounted Police have arrested 18 people in a raid against the Hells Angels motorcycle club in British Columbia.

Monday's arrests came after a 23-month investigation. RCMP officers allege that the Hells Angels East End Chapter is a criminal organization, which could mean longer sentences for members under a new law.

Six of the 18 arrested are full members of the Hells Angels. All 18 have been jailed and most made court appearances Monday. A 19th person remained at large.

Under changes to the Canadian Criminal Code, 18 of the accused men, who face various drug, assault and extortion charges, could be sentenced to extra jail time for committing the crimes for an illegal gang.

"This is the first instance, to my knowledge, that the criminal organization provisions of the Criminal Code have been applied to the Hells Angels in B.C.," Constable Cam Kowalski said.

The investigation by Vancouver police and the RCMP led to the discovery of two crystal methamphetamine labs, 20 kilograms of methamphetamine, 20 kilos of cocaine and 70 kilos of marijuana.

Police said they also seized five handguns, fully automatic weapons with silencers, 11 sticks of dynamite with detonation cord and blasting caps, four grenades and ammunition, and $200,000 in cash.

Senator seeks law against bestiality

AUBURN, Wash. - Reports on an animal cruelty investigation at a farm near Enumclaw show Washington state needs a law against bestiality, state Sen. Pam Roach says.

Roach, R-Auburn, said Monday she plans to introduce legislation that would make it a Class C felony to have sex with an animal, punishable by as much as five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

More than 30 states have laws banning bestiality, including six that make it a felony.

Roach said her proposal also would make it a crime to videotape or distribute images of people engaging in sex with animals.

"These are sex acts against the innocent that have harmful effects," she said. "People of this mind are probably making money off the harm they do to animals."

Roach said her proposal was sparked by reports on a farm in her legislative district that King County sheriff's deputies and Enumclaw police said was known for bestiality and was cited on Internet sites catering to people who engage in sex with animals.

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